“Let’s go out and play. Let’s go where the good times are with Aliage. Estée Lauder’s fresh, green, glorious fragrance. There is nothing else like it in the world” – Aliage ad copy

Aliage* (AKA “Alliage”), the “world’s first sports fragrance” was introduced in 1972. Inspired by of the scent of a leaf Ms. Lauder found in Palm Springs, perfumer Francis Camail composed the perfect scent for the active woman, using “over 300 ingredients that exploded into movement and life”.

Besides galbanum, vetiver and oakmoss, I cannot, with any confidence, identify the other 297 ingredients*. In fact, It took a couple of weeks for me to smell anything beyond the opening number, a bagpipe drone of powdery galbanum.

During those first two weeks, I didn’t know what to make of Aliage. Indulging in my favorite sport (laying still while watching Law & Order reruns) didn’t mute the pipes. That drone became a looming presence. I felt like I was supposed to do something with Aliage, take it somewhere, introduce it to my friends…

As I waiting for the drone to fade, the word “aquatic” kept coming into my mind. Aliage doesn’t smell like an aquatic fragrance, so the word made no sense, but dismissing it didn’t feel right. I have OCD, so all sorts of illogical thoughts pop into my head for no good reason. “Aquatic” had popped in for a reason, but why?

The word floated in my mind as I sniffed my perfumed wrist. I sprayed some Aliage on paper, and when it dried sniffed it over and over again. Suddenly, a spark of recognition – a memory was triggered by the scent! Sniffing the paper like a bloodhound, a wave of pleasure came over me. Although I was all alone, I pleaded aloud to whoever, whatever was listening, “WHAT IS THIS SMELL??”

It came to me.
It was the smell of my mother’s Vaseline Intensive Care Mineral Bath.

Those magic crystals, shaken from their shiny box, turned my bath water lagoon blue – a happy childhood memory stuck between adult worries, shaken loose by a few sprays of Aliage.

This is not to say that Aliage smells like a drugstore bath product, but I do believe Estée Lauder created a template with Aliage – the template, still used today to create sporty-active-fresh fragrances for products like soap and shampoo.

But a template does not guarantee the end product will the same. The difference between Aliage and the functional sporty-active-fresh fragrances it inspires is that Aliage is not just a smell – it’s a sporty scent with structure.

I like Aliage. It’s a green that won’t quit; a cool breeze that melds into a dry warmth. But it’s just not me. If there is ever a time when watching Law & Order reruns is recognized as a sport, I’ll give it another shot.

*Aliage has been reformulated. This review is for the current formulation.

*Notes from esteelauder.com: Top: Jasmine, citrus. Middle: Nutmeg, Rose, Armoise. Base: Oakmoss, Vetiver, Cedarwood.

Estée: A Success Story by Estée Lauder
The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr
Aliage ad copy from The New York Times
Image: John Moss, Wiki Commons